Wednesday, October 28, 2009

you wanna see crappy writing?

I'll show you crappy writing!!!

Written by me in 1993... by candlelight, by an open window, while crying.

So that much is true.



draped in grey
all your hope has flown away
tears adrip
like bleeding skies
wash the sadness from your eyes
dark night falls
upon your face
a silken rose
in a broken vase

the rose...
petals whisper apologies
her head on your shoulder
instead of mine
her joy in your company
as i stand alone
her smile makes my heart cry
because i cannot share it
i know you smile, too,
so i must not weep

hide behind my laugh, my eyes...
no! you must not see
your happiness is precious more
than anything to me
and so i sit at home forlorn
my gown of sorrow tear adorned

i dance
with the velvet night
i smile
at the flickering candle bright
i wish
i was with you...

(grammar, spacing, misspellings, and rampant use of ellipses preserved to highlight my teenage ineptitude and melodrama)


Today I received an impersonal rejection email from my dream agent. I spent hours crafting that query letter, trying to succinctly and charmingly communicate how much I admire this literary agent, her agency, and her blog. And I got the same ol' form letter as everyone else.

And I'm embarrassed to say that, at the ripe old age of 32 and on my 7th query letter, even understanding the arbitrary and cruel nature of the publishing world, I'm heartbroken.

And it made me think of that poem.

See, I wrote that poem when the guy that I was already dating did the chivalrous thing and kept his promise to take his best female friend to homecoming, even though I wanted to go with him. My tears were dripping "like bleeding skies" because he was a nice guy who lived up to his word.

Yes, Amity, if you're reading, it was James.

But good gravy, all this desolate imagery and tears and sadness and my heart beating alone... and I already had the guy. I was just pissed that I didn't get to put on my Jessica McClintock dress, eat at TJ Applebees, and dance to MC Hammer in the high school cafeteria.

To me, today, as a married woman with years of love and loss and misunderstanding under my belt, it's the most ridiculous thing ever. It's mortifying, to think that I once thought that such a trivial, stupid problem was worth sitting in the freezing cold of an open window and scrawling into Dear Diary the most maudlin, cliched similes my teenaged soul could describe. I knew nothing of boys, men, love, rejection, and hopelessness.

So I'm hoping that one day, I'll look back at today's rejection email and think, "Oh, I was so naive, and it all turned out for the best, anyway." I'm hoping that I'll find an even better agent who will love my work as much as I do. And I'm going to do it without writing bad poetry, too.

Although I did write a blog entry. Does that count?

I'm not sure. We're getting too meta here. Maybe one day I'll write a holographic-cyberdiary post about the blog post about the crappy poem, and then we can all get on our hoverscooters and go down to McGore's for an energy pill.


I am Dr. Krog said...

"My gown of sorrow! Tear adorned!!!!" Ok, I am laughing my ass off at this...And f those agents, let's go find some new ones rockstar!

Alicia Istanbul said...

You must persevere, my dear, because you are one of the most talented writers around. Just think, J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times, and now she's richer than the queen!

charissimo said...

Oh honey. As my friend (and published poet/writer) Kim Stafford once said: view every rejection letter as a new opportunity to write another one.

Hang in there.

And you get some serious points for posting high school writing. I'd never have the cojones.

Athena said...

I will join you for that energy pill -- I know that pain (the poem, the prom and the agent rejection) all too well.

Caroline D. said...

wow. you are so brave. i can't even look at my bad old poetry, much less put it on my blog.

you are my hero.

Kristi said...

Damn, that poem sucked! But you're awesome, and one day they will all wish they'd picked you up when you were an unknown. Buck up, little camper.

urfaqhesse said...

at least you kept writing - i stopped at sucky. DUDE someone smart as hell is going to pick up your book. That lady may seem good on paper, but clearly she's not the real deal. However, you are allowed some days of heartbreak - they make the joy to come even more incredible.

RosyRevolver said...

silly, sad little agent. she'll realize later that she totally missed out.

. . . just be sure and send her a "wish you were here" card when you make it to the big time. ; )

Virginia Valerie said...

Awww, you were so sad then. Think of the melodrama as a rite of passage that was necessary even though it is embarrassing. That angsty teen helped you develop into the person you are today. Now you have a much more self-aware perspective, which is so valuable, especially for writers. Also, $%*! the rejectors. $%#^ them up their %$*@ing #%*es. They can kiss your @$$. Hopefully some wonderful person will respond positively soon!

charissimo said...

DAMN I wish I had more connections! I totally want that Farbie cake.

jarvenpa said...

Okay,here's some things I have learned in my lifetime of rejection slips and acceptance slips.
1. Editors (and agents) are human beings. They are not gods. They do not have super powers. They do not even have super intelligence or discernment.
2. Expect (and I'm sorry) dozens of rejections for each acceptance, or each quasi "oh, this is talented" note.
3. Send your work/your queries/your heart out over and over and over and over and over again. When a query or a story or a book bounces back with the standard idiotic stupid form rejection, immediately take the story or query or whatever and send it out again. And again. And again.
4. Read Madeleine L'Engle (I think I have butchered her first name)--not the great Y/A books, but the ones where she talks of her life and writing career. How she wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. And got rejected over and again--well, go read it. It's in...oh, drat, there are three volumes of autobiographical musings. I think it was the first one. Go ask a friendly librarian.
And keep writing. You write because you are a writer, not because you are seeking fame and fortune (well, hey, fame and fortune--I wouldn't turn em out of my doorway if they arrived either--but write for the joy or the passion or whatever.
And don't give up.

And yes, that was a terrible, terrible poem!
(but so were some of my early works. Omigod.)

jarvenpa said...

I think the book I want you to read is the one called A Circle of Quiet, one of the Crosswicks Journals.

(but her Y/A fiction is superb: Wrinkle in Time and so on and so forth).

Back to deadlines.

Lisa in Oz said...

I don't know if this will help (FWIW, I love your blog and think you're an awesome writer), but have you seen the blog Query Shark?

She's an agent who critiques query letters from aspiring authors - maybe you could send your query letter to her just to see if it could be ratcheted up a notch?

Jeannie Finelli, RN said... can I say this tactfully? I can't. Some people suck; don't let it get to you. Under pressure, slackers undoubtedly toss their inboxes into a dumpster. Neglecting to scan a fraction of material that crosses their desks, they WILL NOT bother themselves with drafting a conscientious reply. Not a reflection of a submission, but their own laziness. Sounds like you were a victim of such, and I'm so sorry about your hurt feelings.

Know you're fabulous and keep rolling! We love ya, SITSa, and realize you're awesome :)

J. A. Platt said...

tears adrip
like bleeding skies

That's horribly wonderful. It would only have been more emo if you had made it about vampires.